Conscious Choices – Animals in Our Lives
Today is our monthly Animal Blessings Service and I want to talk about incongruities in the way we think, act and behave toward animals. Not all animals, just some animals and it predominantly stems from a level of unconsciousness.
Yesterday I noticed someone had posted on Facebook an article that was entitled something like ‘Scientists believe Lobsters May Feel Pain When Being Boiled.’
So let’s consider this – there isn’t a creature on the planet that I know of that doesn’t exhibit fight or flight behavior which indicates that they want to survive. They have a desire to be here, to preserve their own lives and the lives of their families.
That’s every animal that I can think of.
A lobster being boiled alive, whether it feels pain or not, is going to feel the need to escape, so it’s feeling something.
We love and demand ethical treatment for cats and dogs. We are disgusted by nations that eat horses and dogs; yet we don’t have the same awareness about our own behaviors.
I became a vegetarian when I was 22. I had gone to Disney World and was in their petting zoo. They had a cow there named ‘Minney Moo.’ As I stood at the fence to her pen she came over to me and nudged her head toward me. I put my hand out and she nudged her head under it. As I began petting her head, she closed her eyes and made a little sound of comfort.
It was clear to me that this animal had feelings, felt comfort, enjoyed being touched. The thought of then turning around and eating beef was disgusting to me. I returned home a vegetarian.
That was more than 25 years ago.
Someone recently asked me ‘what the deal was with veganism?’ They understand someone being a vegetarian, but why veganism?’
Here’s the deal about veganism – where dairy is concerned, cows give birth and their babies are taken away from them so that the cow continues to give milk. The calves are typically killed or used for veal. So that’s why vegans don’t consume anything dairy related. The process of obtaining milk from a cow is unconsciousionable. Dairy has been off my list for almost as long as meat.
Eggs? Factory farms are machines. The chickens’ only purpose is to lay eggs for our consumption. Several months ago, a chicken came to us for refuge. We aren’t sure where she came from, but she wasn’t well when she arrived. Her beak had been clipped, so she was most likely from a farm. The clipping was so she wouldn’t peck at the others. Just as I experienced with Minnie Moo, I learned that chickens are funny, they are smart, they recognize you, they like community and they certainly demonstrate an awareness of the life they live. I no longer eat eggs now either.
What about honey? This one seems to be difficult for people to understand. They are bees, they make honey, what’s the big deal? Well, many honey purveyors, as they are only in it for the honey, will clean out the hives of all of the honey and leave the bees with sugar water for food. Not only is this unhealthy for the bees, it is indicative of one of the many things wrong with humanity; the belief that all things big and small are here for our benefit. Vegans believe that this is not true, that we should not be stealing honey form the bees, and especially, leaving them without anything.
So as we come together today to honor the animals of the world; let’s start by having greater awareness of our own behaviors.
For many people the food they eat is a place of unconsciousness. We only see the end product, so there is no connection to the animal that once was. We are disconnected from their life or their experience. But that’s unconsciousness, and we do this in many places in our lives.
When my son was four years old we spent 3 month walking to Summer Camp in NYC, there and back, and he would ask me where different foods came from. I would tell him. At the end of the 3 months he said to me ‘I don’t want to eat meat,’ and I said O.K. I see this level of awareness in many kids today. They put two and two together. It doesn’t make sense to them, it doesn’t make sense to me.
I think we all have these pockets of unconsciousness in our lives and our opportunity, our challenge, is to be on the lookout for them, to constantly strive to shed light on our incongruities and to always stretch ourselves to grow.
Today is our Animal Blessings Service where we honor, celebrate and remember the animals in our lives.
Today is good day to bring greater awareness into your own choices.
Your ripple opportunity this week is to bring a deeper level of conscious awareness into your food choices. Choose what you choose, but from a place of awareness.
Rev Christine, Nature’s Sanctuary Sunday Service Reflection for August 7, 2016